Column: Economics, literature and understanding life

Every spring, during college graduation season, I think about a former professor who uttered two astonishing sentences that changed the course of my life.

I was a disaffected student, attending community college because I didn’t have the grades, the money or the motivation to attend a four-year university. I had no real interest in business — my major — but my mother, a typical immigrant, had convinced me it would be the most practical course of study.

My parents didn’t know much about college. My mother never had the opportunity to go, and my father’s plans to attend college were derailed by World War II. He was an obsessive reader who would have thrived in college, but after more than nine months on the front lines in France, Luxembourg and Germany, his ambition dissipated.

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